The W124 series (1985-1996) 


The start into a new area of Automobil History. 

In the beginning of the 80th a  new Mercedes has to be build from scratch. The w123 series looks and feels outdated. Even the reputation was excellent and you may have to wait for 2 years to get your new Merc the whole car was fallen behind. And Mercedes released the W124 series in 1985.. It  feels and drives like a complete new car. It was very quite inside as they changed the engine department and let the noise where it blongs.. outside. The heating was completly new. A incedible system of valves, sensors and fans keeps the temperature inside the car on a predefined level. Also the engines are  new like the M130 engine. Driven with the old Bosch injection System K Jet they now also add some electronic around the engine. The first ECU in a merc called the KE Jetronic. A complicated system even if it is getting older and not much people aroung knows this technique which was invented in the 200,230 (M102) and 300 (M130) Engine. The fuels consumption dropped another 1-2L and the torque goes up a bit. The engines are now also ready for electronically controlled catalysts. The Diesel Engines also changed  completly.  The new 200D,250D and 300D start into a new area of Diesel technologie.  


With the W124 Series all Mercedes Names have changed. The 220TE became a E 220T, a 320CE became a E 320C so the "E" Class was born with the Mark 3 Series starting 1992. But let's go back into the 80th. 


In the early 80th  the W123 series feels quite old. Daimler build cars like they start with the fintail series since the beginning of the 60th.. Sometimes ugly but with chrome and charm. Technically the cars where outdated. Mercedes need a new car and they did start with the 190 Series with a lot of new things and totally different to the old style W123. Actually the 190 became incredable succesful and is known as the C class by today.. This car was planned as a baby benz in the 70th. But it goes into production later in the 80th. In 1985 the new "E" class and follower of the w123 was released. But in the beginning it was a disaster. So many problems with the new car that Taxi drivers hold a demonstration in Berlin against the poor quality. But from a later perspective the change was so radical that faults could not avoided. But Mercedes solved this problems quickly and from 1988-1992 the "old E Class"  W124 series became the best car Mercedes ever made . But in 1993 the build quality changed with Mopf2 (Mark2)  The rust protection goes to hell. But modern 4V engines are released also. The old KE Jetronic was replaced with the HFM injection system. The injectors are now electronical controlled not just only by pressure from the injection pump. 2 zylinders got a single coil and a new diagnosis system. Unfortunately the engine wiring loom was getting to hot. Also Airbags, Catalysts, ABS and ESP became standart now. But the prices where incedable high. And unfortunately with the end of the lifetime the colorchoice dropped also. 

With the W211 series Mercedes drops the price and the qualitiy level to the worst. But so many inventions from the W124 series became standart at othere brands at the end of the last century. This car was so advanced that even today it still feels like driving a modern car.  Today you find just only black, dark blue and silver cars. What a monotony.  But next to the great choice of colours Daimler Benz als relesed a big choice of bodystyles. The Coupe, Estate, Saloon and LWB cars. But next to it they also released a W124  Cabrio. The handmade top of the range topless Merc is a looked after model. And don't forget the 4matic. The first 4x4 Saloon and Estate Mercedes car next to the G-Model. They are known for the complex but reliable mechanic and unbeatable in wintertime. This time they also relesed a 8 cylinder car, the 420E and 500E. Made as a Porsche killer with a lot of torque in low revs.             

Driving a W124

Just get in and feel the difference. The look an feel (haptic) ist still on a very high level and next to some worn driver seats you will not recognize how many miles the car has driven. Even a high mileage car feels like new when maintained. You may feel more like sitting in a room like pressed into a cocpit. Next to it you can see the last mechanical speedos made by Mercedes. The next generation is all electronic with the usual faults. So don't mind if the pointer a bit erratic in low speed. At least you can reset the trip counter with one push and without a manual.  The driving experience is not like a BMW. The cars are still made for crusing as the mayority of the buyers where older than 50 Years. Don't expect a sport car. Even the lowered "Sportline" version drives quite kompfortable. Daimler Benz changed this image with the beginning of the new century. But the W124 Series is the last rider on the street. Crusing not racing...   If something is going low e.g. oil, cooling water or the screen wash you will see a lamp lightning in the dashboard. Even a broken  lamp will be displayed.

 And you like all the extras this cars have in. Leather, Velurs (valvet),  Air condition, electric memory seats, electric heated seats, 3rd bench in the estate to make it a people carier, cruse control, trip computer, electric windows and sunroof,  remote controled central locking with total closing system,  nightheater, and even a additional heating for the 3rd bench was available. Together with Airbags, ABS,ESD, and 4matic you can make it an secure car and easily double the initial price.    

Maintenance and restoring

The standart was so high that even 20 years old cars can drive without any maintenance for more than 100.000 Miles (Standart in UK :-). But after 200.000 they are all wracks. Don't be silly and buy a 500 Pound car and think you will have fun in it. You will have not as everything is worn out after 200.000 miles. Replacing the suspension costs 1000 pounds if not maintaned. The same with the engine (except the Diesel) or gadgets like electric items. The Estate for example suffers from broken wiring looms as the HFM engines. Replacing a broken one costs roudabout 500 Pounds plus labour and (in 60% of all cases another 1000 Pounds for the ECU) The earlier engines like the 200, 230 and 300 are suffering also from low maintenance. The don't start when warm or cold and surprise with uneconomic fuel consuption. The diesel engines sometimes suffering from loud noises comming from the valve clearance adjusters. There is not enough oil pressure due to a worn bar in the head gasket. In this case you need to replace the head gasket. Or drive another 50.000 miles and don't bother about the ticking noise :-). The most economic engines are the 250D and the 220E. The 300 Turbo Diesel from 1993 - 2000 suffered from corosion at the last cylinder. But all the Diesels can be run with salat oil if you care about some new gaskets, a bigger fuel line and special injectors. You may drive the engines more than 500.000 Miles without any major overhoul. The Auto gearboxes are also good for 300.000 Miles or more if the oil and filter has been changed regulary. Even smaller faults like reving up between the 2. and 3. gear can be fixed quite easily. The manual gearboxe is also ready for 300.000 miles before you need the first bearing. A light oilfilm on the differential is normal. You may be concerned if it is dry :-)  

Always look for the rear suspension unit. You will find 5 wishbones on every side which need replacent after the years. Usually the suspension springs are broken at the first coil but hardly noticable. After 200.000 miles the power steering box is also due to a replacement. The whole heating system is very complex and needs someone who knows how it works to replace the right failty items. There is one small nice blower behind the glove box sucking air next to a thermosensor to tell the system the temperature inside the cabin. Guess what's brocken in most of the cases?  

.  The good news: Spare parts are cheep & affordable. You can also buy the WIS CD at your local dealer whitch provides all technical information you need to repair the car. And you don't need to bother computers too much. The can-bus came first in the year 2000 and all other electronics can be repaired  by an electronic specialist. But at the end it is the last Mercedes you can maintain by yourself and repair more or less everything without the need of an Mercedes Garage. Don't bother about the rotten front wing too much. This is the cheapest body repair. But be carefull with the last series (1992-95). The tend to rust much more than the earlier versions.   

And always think about it: Nobody cleans his/her w124 after 30 minutes of driving :-)




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